No need to yell at the kids in the back seat

No need to yell at the kids in the back seat

Toyota USA have solved the age old problem of parents having to discipline their children on the move by raising their voice.

The feature is called “Driver Easy Speak” and it is an option in the latest 2015 Toyota Sienna MPV. It uses a built-in microphone to amplify a parent’s voice through speakers in the back seats according to the Associated Press (AP).

Toyota says it added Easy Speak “so parents don’t have to shout to passengers in the back.” But the chances are many parents will yell into the microphone, according to AP.

The feature only works one way, so children can’t talk back. At least not without amplified voices.

The 2015 Sienna also has an optional “pull-down conversation mirror” that lets drivers check on kids without the need to turn around in their seat.
US car manufacturers are trying to make the out-of-fashion MPV more appealing by being more creative with features, says Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at the Edmunds.com automotive website.

One such creative touch was a vacuum cleaner which Honda built into the back of its revamped Odyssey that got a lot of attention from consumers.

Such features are important because there’s little car manufacturers can do to make the practical but bland vans more stylish, Caldwell told AP.

“I think they’re on the right lines of trying to find features that people are going to talk about,” she says.

MPV sales in the USA peaked at 1.37 million in 2000, but fell as low as 415,000 in 2009, when car sales bottomed during the recession.

Sales have risen as the market rebounded, and last year US customers bought just under 519,000 of the vans. But Caldwell told AP the MPV share of the US market now is holding steady at 3.4%, less than half the share from peak years.

Ford is rolling out a new family wagon based on the Transit Connect small commercial van and Chrysler is working on a revamp of its Town & Country MPV to entice more customers.

Toyota is unveiling the new Sienna MPV mainly through social media and at a Baltimore arts festival.

“Driver Easy Speak” is available only on Sienna models equipped with Toyota’s Entune premium audio systems.

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